It’s time to say Happy Birthday this month as your baby officially graduates from being a baby to becoming a toddler. A whole year has passed since they were born but it may not seem like it. Remembering life B.C. (before children) can be almost impossible, not to mention recalling just where the time has gone. But you can be sure that in spite of all the changes, your baby has added another dimension to your life.
Be prepared for a busy month as your baby reaches new developmental milestones. If they aren’t quite walking yet, this won’t be too far off. Some babies teeter and totter for months and others just seem to get up on their two legs and run from the moment they can stand. Lots of babies revert back to crawling when they’re in unfamiliar surroundings or they feel uncertain. Your baby is likely to combine crawling and walking until they feel confident supporting themselves on two limbs and not four. Avoid letting them sit for long periods in their pram or the car. Practice makes perfect with walking as with any other skill, whether it relates to fine or gross motor achievements.
If your baby is bottle feeding, they can transition over to full cream cow’s milk this month, unless your health professional has recommended your baby remains on formula. Cow’s milk will supply them with all the nutrients they need to grow. At least 3 serves of milk a day, in combination with 3 solid meals and 2 snacks is ideal. You may want to think about ceasing your baby’s bottles from now on. If your baby can drink from a cup and is becoming proficient at drinking and swallowing, then begin to phase out their bottles. This will help to protect their teeth and reduce the amount of time their vulnerable baby teeth are exposed to lactose, the sugar in milk.
Expect your toddler to still need 2 day time sleeps until after 14 months. You’ll look forward to these rest breaks and need them as much as they do. This can be a physically tiring time for parents, so be prepared. Your vigilance will be important in monitoring just where your toddler has gotten to.
Your baby is at a highly social and engaging age and will seek out stimulation wherever they can find it. Nature has designed them to look for situations which will occupy their mind and help them to learn new skills. Aim to have music, books, friends and activity in your household – your baby will only benefit. Seeing you relating to other people and interacting in appropriately sensitive ways will also teach them what is involved in communication and relationships. Your baby will be watching you and although you may think they are too young to take much in, don’t be fooled – they are like little sponges at this age.
Your toddler will be learning all about their range of emotions now. Anger, glee, frustration, boredom and the effect these can have on the people around them. Babies are excellent at getting what they want. Their ability to charm their way into the hearts and minds of their loving parents is legendary. But managing a toddler’s emotional outbursts can take confidence and patience and it can be very hard to know just what to do when they become distressed. An excellent book which will help you understand how your toddler’s brain works is The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland (Dorling Kindersley publishing).
Lots of gross motor activity this month which means this can be an exciting, but also worrying time for you as parents. It will all seem to have been so much easier when you were able to place your baby in one spot and they stayed there until you moved them. Now you’ll need to have eyes in the back of your head to monitor exactly where they have scurried off to.
Your toddler will be more independent with their eating and will make their wishes more clearly known. Although their language skills will still be limited, they will experiment with sounds and parts of words. You’ll develop skills in deciphering what they’re saying and learn to interpret their body language. Your baby will be able to point, wave, clap hands and transfer objects from one hand to the other. Even if they can’t walk, they’ll be able to balance with one hand holding on for security.
Your baby is likely to have tripled their birth weight by now and has grown in leaps and bounds. Compare their birthday photos with their newborn ones and marvel at the changes in 12 short months. If your baby was premature they could be taking more time to reach their standard developmental milestones. Time, practice, environment, gender and the degree of prematurity will all impact on the amount of time it will take for your baby to meet these.
Make some time this month to celebrate your baby’s birthday and share the joy with family and friends. At 1 year of age, it’s not your baby who will appreciate all the fuss but it is nice to acknowledge such a momentous occasion. Aim to time the gathering for after your baby has woken from a sleep and is likely to be more social. This is a day when you can relax their routine a little and just go with the flow. Take lots of photos and movies and ensure you and all the family are included. If you can, get a photo of all the generations of family present – the opportunity for doing this in life can be very limited.
You may want to give your baby a gift which can be added to over the years. A charm bracelet for a girl, a silver or china collection, or for a boy a special train set or a rocking horse. Books which are noted with a date and the giver’s name are always a lovely birthday gift.
Designate a bottom drawer or cupboard as being for your baby’s play time. Plastic containers are always popular and won’t be damaged by being flung across the room. Your toddler is likely to want to be where you are, so if you are feeling as if you’ve constantly got a little shadow, then be only glad. This is a sign that your baby feels secure with you being so close. There will come a time when they don’t want to be in such close proximity so for now, enjoy it.
You are likely to feel a little sad, as well as being excited, that your baby has reached such a significant milestone. But one year olds are still so young, with so much future ahead of them. You could be seriously considering whether now is the time to start planning for another baby or you may have decided to defer this for another little while. Talk with your partner about your own, unique situation and what will work for you as a family.
If you are still carrying excess baby weight, make an effort to shift a little of it. You’ll feel so much better and will be investing in your own life. There is no magic formula when it comes to weight loss other than eating less food than you have been and using up more energy. Diets don’t work and losing weight is not about being strong willed. It is about learning how to eat sensibly and replacing poor eating and exercise behaviours for more healthy ones. It can take up to 6 weeks to see any improvements so be patient and have confidence in your ability to improve your health.